Interested in call center supervision?
Maintaining high standards in customer care service is not an easy task. That’s why customer service representatives (CSR) should receive thorough training and guidance to excel at their job.
This is where call center supervision plays a crucial role.
A frontline supervisor sets the call center up for success by building, nurturing, and managing a winning team of customer reps.
In this article, we’ll share everything that an aspiring supervisor needs to know about the job, including the responsibilities, qualities, and essential skills to master your work.
This article contains:
(click on the links below to jump to a specific section)
- Call Center Supervision: Key Roles And Responsibilities
- What Are The Qualities Of A Call Center Supervisor?
- 5 Essential Skills To Master For Effective Call Center Supervision
Let’s get started.
Call center supervision: Key roles and responsibilities
A call center supervisor job comes with several different roles and responsibilities.
Let’s take a look at some of them:
Supervisors usually have extensive customer service experience and understand the ins and outs of the job.
They may assist the HR team when hiring new frontline staff in multiple ways, such as:
- Creating job descriptions for call center agents.
- Posting the job advertisements on various hiring channels.
- Conducting agent tests and interviews.
- Assessing and screening the candidates on parameters such as communication skills, technical know-how, etc.
Moreover, contact center recruitment is an expensive and time-consuming process, and that’s why you need supervisors to ensure that you hire the right people in the first attempt.
This will also help minimize the agent attrition that can happen due to hiring unsuitable agents.
During the onboarding phase, supervisors can help new hires ease into the company by:
- Introducing them to the company’s ethos and culture.
- Giving them a tour of the contact center floor.
- Providing them with an overview of the customer service industry.
- Briefing them about the product, services, and contact center processes.
- Detailing their roles and responsibilities as frontline agents.
2. Agent training
An effective training program goes a long way in ensuring both happy agents and customers. It can also lead to better call center performance and long-term profitability.
This is why coaching new agents becomes a key responsibility when you’re in a supervisory role.
Here are a few ways supervisors can help during the training phase:
- Create a positive learning environment for a new employee.
- Design the training program – course modules, duration, etc.
- Instruct agents on compliance policies and adherence guidelines.
- Set up a knowledge base and other training resources required for agent certification.
- Impart necessary soft skills to tackle customer service challenges.
- Encourage teamwork and creativity through training activities like role-play and gamification.
- Track various training KPI(key performance indicators) to evaluate agents’ performance at every stage of the training.
- Provide constructive feedback after every coaching session to help the agent improve.
3. Quality assurance
Setting and maintaining high standards in customer service is vital for call center success.
In addition to creating a loyal customer base, it helps boost your brand’s image through positive feedback on social media.
Supervisors make this happen by working on different tasks, such as:
- Ensuring that customers do not wait long in the queue or on hold.
- Monitoring customer experience metrics like – customer satisfaction (CSAT), net promoter score (NPS), customer effort score (CES), etc.
- Analyzing data from quality assurance (QA) software to get better customer experience insights.
- Listening to agent call recordings and guiding them to make necessary changes.
- Assisting a customer service representative on live call when handling a challenging customer issue.
- Taking over a call from the agent when a customer requests a call escalation to the center manager.
4. Agent performance monitoring
Supervisors need to monitor agent performance constantly, so they keep giving their best at work.
As a supervisor or a team leader, you may be responsible for:
- Setting performance benchmarks.
- Tracking agent productivity metrics like average handle time, adherence rate, and occupancy rate, etc.
- Monitoring and evaluating individual performance against the benchmarks.
- Giving timely feedback to the agents.
- Identifying areas of improvement and setting up retraining sessions.
- Ensuring that agents stay compliant during live calls.
- Preparing performance reports for the operations manager.
5. Team administration
Supervisors may also be required to handle various administrative tasks, such as:
- Maintaining records of agent attendance.
- Scheduling agent shifts.
- Processing payrolls.
- Approving and managing leaves.
- Scheduling team meetings and feedback sessions.
These administrative tasks are necessary for business processes to run smoothly and efficiently.
What are the qualities of a call center supervisor?
Proficient call center supervisors have certain qualities that help them carry out the above discussed responsibilities with ease.
Let’s take a closer look at five such qualities:
1. Innovative leadership style
In the last decade or so, leadership practices have become increasingly transparent and employee centric, thanks to the growing millennial workforce.
A modern-day leader is more of a mentor who guides rather than a boss who orders employees around.
Supervisors should strive to lead their team of agents with a similar approach. Here are a few pointers that can help:
- Facilitate communication between the senior leadership and the contact center agents.
- Create a nurturing call center environment for agents to fully realize their potential.
- Focus on agents’ learning and growth and not just the benchmark performance.
- Empower your agents by giving them access to the right resources and information.
- Lead by example – practice qualities like accountability and empathy to highlight their importance to your team.
- Be approachable – your team members should always feel comfortable asking you for help or guidance.
- Be open to suggestions and feedback from your team members and customers.
- Incorporate employee engagement activities to ensure agent satisfaction.
Call center operations can get hectic and chaotic, especially when they experience high call volumes.
An effective supervisor stays calm and organized, even in the most challenging situations.
Proper organization helps you manage your time well and keeps the agents free from any stress caused by disorderly operations.
Here are a few effective organizational tips for call center supervisors:
- Monitor operational metrics like service level and peak hours to anticipate the staffing needs.
- Look for patterns in call arrival and plan for high call volumes.
- Pre-allocate necessary resources and equipment to avoid last-minute confusion.
- Set priorities for different types of customer inquiries for efficient routing of inbound calls.
- Create call flow templates and scripts that agents can use for faster resolution of customer issues.
- Communicate benchmarks and deadlines so that everyone in the team stays updated on their responsibilities.
- Pre-schedule calls and meetings so that you know which time-slots are free.
- Automate routine tasks or outsource them to virtual assistants.
3. Desire to learn and improve
Call center operations evolve continuously with changing trends and technology. Failing to do so can hamper both profitability and customer experience.
To teach the agents about new and improved processes, supervisors must first adapt to these changes themselves.
They can only do this with a strong desire to improve and an attitude of learning.
Let’s check out few tips that can help supervisors improve:
- Take refresher training courses designed specifically for supervisors and team leaders.
- Stay updated on the latest trends in behavioral psychology, social media, and marketing strategies.
- Keep an eye on a competitor’s product or service and forecast changing customer expectations and needs.
- Learn about your call center software’s newest features and how it could help your team.
Technology can improve the effectiveness of almost every call center function – be it call quality monitoring, workforce management, or agent training.
Standalone call center software offers tons of functionalities such as:
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
- Knowledge base for quickly referring to required information.
- Agent scripting tools that prompt what an agent must say on the call.
- Quality Assurance (QA) management.
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
- AI chatbots, etc.
Only a tech-savvy supervisor can fully leverage the far-reaching benefits of these software tools.
Most call center software today also allows you to run analytics on the data and see insightful reports. For example, call center speech analytics can monitor customer calls in real-time to reveal inefficiencies in communication.
Similarly, a performance management tool like Time Doctor allows supervisors to see detailed reports on agent productivity.
5 essential skills to master for effective call center supervision
Here is a list of the core competencies a supervisor must have in order to drive results:
1. Communication skills
Customer service success relies largely on effective communication.
Supervisors need to regularly interact with:
- Customer service representatives (CSR)
- Client team
- Operations manager and senior leadership
- HR team, etc.
They should know how to organize their thoughts and speak out with absolute clarity in order to make an impact.
A supervisor with excellent interpersonal communication skills will be able to:
- Motivate agents to give their best.
- Give employees constructive and actionable feedback.
- Communicate expectations and results to the call center managers.
- Empathize, persuade or calmly reassure agitated customers.
- Convert sales during outbound calls.
- Use non-verbal communication skills to effectively convey their point when required.
2. Active listening
In addition to conveying their thoughts effectively, supervisors should listen actively – with intent and utmost attention.
Interestingly, just a simple act of attentive listening can help boost both customer and agent retention.
A supervisor who listens carefully when agents share their grievances or expectations is more likely to win their trust as a leader.
Similarly, frustrated customers usually tend to soften their stance when supervisors listen to their concerns without any biases.
Moreover, active listening can reduce misunderstandings and errors that might happen when talking to customers and agents.
3. People management
Call center supervisors usually manage a large team of agents.
So without the necessary people management skills, they may find it hard to drive the expected results from the team.
Effective team management skills can help:
- Run the call center operations smoothly and on schedule.
- Create a motivating and collaborative work environment.
- Develop a sense of trust among the team members.
- Maximize the productivity of each team member.
- Resolve team conflicts.
However, it isn’t always easy to keep team morale high.
Don’t worry. Here are some tips for managing your team effectively:
- Clearly define agent responsibilities.
- Be flexible when delegating work to the agents and ask for their preferences.
- Acknowledge and reward good performances.
- Always offer solutions when giving critical feedback.
- Regularly check-in on your team members and ask them about the issues they face while working.
- Learn to identify personal and organizational problems when addressing agents’ concerns.
4. Problem solving skills
Every workplace has its set of challenges, and a call center is no different.
Supervisors may regularly face obstacles when:
- Managing a large team.
- Handling call escalations.
- Ensuring high customer experience standards.
- Managing senior management’s expectations.
A supervisor with a problem-solving attitude is an invaluable asset to any call center.
Every work problem presents a unique challenge.
To solve it efficiently, a supervisor may need to develop additional skills such as:
- Active listening.
- Emotional intelligence.
- Critical thinking.
- Decision-making, etc.
Let’s take an example of a customer who has requested a call escalation to the supervisor as the agents weren’t able to solve their problem.
When the supervisor gets on the phone, the customer is already unhappy with the service. Any further delay or excuses would result in a potentially lost customer.
At this point, the supervisor needs to listen to the customer’s concerns patiently. Then, they should quickly decide on the best course of action to resolve the issue.
As all this could happen in a matter of a few minutes, the supervisor needs to have the skill of problem-solving to come up with the right response in such a short duration.
A call center supervisor needs to wear many different hats.
Usually, they’re expected to work on more than one task simultaneously.
For example, they might be managing a team of agents while mentoring a batch of new recruits. It means performing managerial tasks alongside training and assessment work.
This is why multi-tasking skills are crucial to be an effective contact center supervisor.
Here are some tips for effective multi-tasking:
- Plan your day using to-do lists.
- Prioritize your tasks using the Eisenhower Matrix.
- Break down large goals into manageable daily tasks.
- Eliminate all workspace distractions.
- Choose similar tasks to work on at the same time.
- Learn effective note-taking skills to record information while taking a call.
Call center supervision lays the foundation for a solid customer service experience and maximum profitability.
Agents aspiring to take up a supervisory role must be well-aware of the job responsibilities and the skills required to fulfill them. The tips shared here will certainly help you equip yourself with the skills needed to be a top-performing supervisor.
Liam Martin is a co-founder of Time Doctor which is software to improve productivity and help keep track and know what your team is working on, even when working from home.